Differences of opinion, lack of communication, and role imposition are often reasons to deal with conflicts at work. Such situations can become a burden without the right tools to find a solution. Therefore, employers inquire about the emotional intelligence of their staff. They prefer those who are better able to cope with the circumstances that may arise. But why do disagreements occur in the office, and what are the best solutions? Below, we address this issue.
What are conflicts at work, and what are their characteristics?
Conflict is a phenomenon inherent to social relations. And the work environment does not escape from this reality. At the same time, the text clarifies that not all conflicts are bad since some result in productive scenarios as long as the parties find the appropriate route. Disagreements between team members generate conflicts in the workplace. Generally, there are 4 types:
- Style: organizational skills, execution techniques, and the way of working could cause tension.
- Personality: the character of co-workers and interests sometimes make it difficult to work together.
- Departmental: they occur when the members of one coordination are affected by the demands of another.
- Leadership approach: they occur when team leaders limit their listening and dialogue skills, in addition to applying strategies that worsen the situation.
Recommendations for dealing with conflicts in the workplace
It is essential to know how to deal with conflicts at work for the company’s good and its employees’ professional growth. We reveal some keys to preventing, mediating, and resolving labor discrepancies.
1. Strengthen communication
Most problems in the office are the result of a lack of communication and difficulties in understanding each other.
Sometimes a colleague (even a boss) can act in a way you do not consider helpful to your duties. They may request you to “finish their report” or “write my paper for me free, I’ll owe”. However, these extra responsibilities will only lead you to overtime and stress, and fatigue. Therefore, you should politely and respectfully express your opinion; do not cultivate resentment.
A study on communication gaps between employers and their staff, developed by The Workforce Institute, concluded that 83% of UK employees feel that people in their organization are not given a fair hearing; furthermore, 46% claimed that underrepresented voices are undervalued by employers.
Based on these data, it is valid to accept that learning to listen and communicate with respect and maturity is fundamental to solving labor conflicts.
2. Act objectively
Although it may seem difficult to control emotions, it is necessary to set aside subjectivity and concentrate on the other person’s work qualities instead of focusing on their personality. It is the only way to end the conflict and get the team back on track.
3. Pinpoint the root of the conflict
Do not let the problem run its course, but pinpoint the source of the conflict right from the start. Knowing the origin makes it easier to reconcile. This advice applies even if the problem is recurrent. In any case, those involved should raise their concerns and specify what does not satisfy them, opening the mind towards mutual understanding and proposing comfortable solutions.
4. Talk in a private place
Discussions to solve a problem should be constructive and preferably in a private place so that everyone feels confident to express their points of view without making a “show” of the issue. Provide a safe environment, away from the offices or departments to which the parties involved belong, and give everyone the time they need to vent their feelings.
5. Brainstorm solutions as a team
Ask the work team to get involved in the search for solutions, especially when the conflict involves a large part of the staff. In addition to feeling that they are taken into account, they perceive that their opinions are considered of value, and this enhances the sense of belonging.
6. Finding common ground
The mediator in a work conflict must be oriented towards a satisfactory outcome instead of looking for who is right. The mission is to find common ground that will end the disharmony, not to form parties that increase the conflict even more.
7. Encourage accountability
In particular, leaders or managers should promote a culture of accountability in the team so that they understand the importance of engaging in difficult conversations; only then will tranquility prevail in the office.
8. Recap the lessons
What can you take away from the conflict? Every experience becomes a useful lesson. The trick is to take the positive, to grow as a professional. And to pinpoint the negative so that it doesn’t happen again.